Barack Obama's gun control policies aren't nearly as radical as Republicans think

Bethan McKernan@mck_beth
Wednesday 06 January 2016 13:00
news

Barack Obama gave a tearful address at the White House yesterday during which he outlined the executive action he will be taking on gun control during his last few months as president.

Congress has repeatedly blocked stricter gun control laws during Obama's tenure, which he has described as "the greatest frustration of [his] presidency".

There has been outcry from the gun lobby and other right-wingers at the proposed changes, despite the fact that suicide, murders and accidents involving firearms kill more than 30,000 Americans every year.

The actions Obama is forcing through are focused on closing loopholes and strengthening background checks - actions that will make it harder for dangerous people to get their hands on guns, including:

- Making sure online and gun show weapon purchases also adhere to background checks

- More than 230 new examiners at the FBI to help process background checks

- People with mental illness or domestic violence in their histories must be registered and disqualified from buying guns

- $500m (£339m) in spending on improving access to mental healthcare

- A new mandate for the government's defence, justice and homeland security departments to research "smart gun tech" in the hopes of improving gun safety

These ideas may all seem like common sense - modest, many gun control advocates even argue they don't go far enough.

But as Scott Lemieux points out in the Guardian, it doesn't really matter what Obama says about gun control. Republicans will still oppose him, just because.

Many prominent GOP politicians lined up to attack Obama's proposals as "illegal" before they even knew what they were: presidential candidate Chris Christie said Obama wants to act "as if he's a dictator"; Jeb Bush said the president wants to "use executive power he doesn't have".

And Donald Trump accused him of attacking the Second Amendment, which says US citizens have the right to bear arms, even though Obama explicitly said: "I believe in the second amendment."

More: The effect Barack Obama's presidency has had on the number of 'patriot' militias in the US

More: Republican conspiracy theorists think Barack Obama wasn't crying real tears about gun control

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